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Solitude: Everyone Leaves Me Stranded

By Izumi's Apprentice



First Curse, Pre Season 1

An eyelid fluttered open but soon squinted to take in the surroundings only to find that it made things worse. Where was she? It was a very dark environment she now found herself in. The last memory she had was of the purple mist of Regina's Dark Curse coming to greet her. She took a moment to yawn and stretch, but swiftly realized it wasn't her mouth. Well it was her mouth but not the one she was used to for many centuries of her life. Immediately, she stood up on all four legs and swung her long neck around to find that she was in a cave of some kind, the walls a mixture of stone and well packed dirt, the ceiling expansively high. And she was in dragon form. She ground her teeth, the fire in her belly rising in temperature to glow through her scales as she held back the urge to go crazy right then. She sighed, closing her green eyes to concentrate on her human form. To recall every aspect of it, every curve, the feel of skin upon skin and the texture of clothing. Then she focused her energy into that visualization and let it overwhelm and consume her. And yet...nothing happened. She opened her eyes again to discover that she had remained in dragon form causing her to growl low from the heart.

Releasing a swift stream of fire, illuminating the cave in a fiery red, she expanded her wings and took flight in an angry torrent. She zoomed to the top of the cave to discover no faults in the design that would allow her to escape, so she moved on to investigating the walls, again to no avail. Maleficent let out the loudest threateningly pierce roar she had ever allowed in her life and actively slammed against one side of the cave to feel only a slight shudder of dirt. She growled and launched her enormous body against the wall at a different angle, hoping for better results. She continued with her assault, losing track of how many times she tried, little in the way of measuring the time she spent, hope dwindling moment by moment as the only sound near was her own sorrowed howls and heavy breathing.

Slowly yet elegantly she drifted toward the ground and slumped against the undamaged wall, head lowered to stare at the rest of her body. Was this her punishment? Her curse? But why, Regina!? Maleficent huffed in frustration, exhaustion swiftly taking over her body as she carefully laid herself down, resting her head on her front appendages as she half-heartedly glared off at another corner of the enclosure. This was certainly some punishment the Queen had stirred up for her 'only friend' as she told her when stealing back the Dark Curse. Maleficent had thought their relationship was more than mere friends, but watching the young queen turn into what most deemed The Evil Queen had been quite frightening to say the least. It had been a subtle change in her friend at first then all of a sudden it seemed she had become a simpering child hiding behind lavish costumes and theatrical displays of feigned duty. She had become a shred of herself, hiding behind those facades and creating a second persona to live by. Regina was no longer the bright child who had graced her castle front and helped her find who she was again. Maleficent owed much to the brunette and was certain she would be repaying her in small favors throughout her short lifespan because of the light she had brought to the dragon's life, kickstarting it once more. Maleficent had tried stopping Regina from going through with her plans, nearly begged her to halt her actions for it would leave such a hole in the woman's heart.

She sighed as she felt her body fall into a deep sleep intended to relax the stress away and to heal her minor injuries of her previous excursions. The woman—no...she wasn't woman. She was female. A dragon. No longer of the 'man species'. Not now. Not ever, as far as she knew. She had heard some kind of rumor of a savior before they were plucked from their homeland, but she believed it to be only a falsehood. Maleficent was uncertain if she slept for days, or months, perhaps even years, but she grew bored of stalking the cave and relented to sleep. It was probably for the best as there was nothing to hunt down there, nothing to prey upon and no books to read. She could smell the familiar scent of worn leather and musty pages above her but there was no means of accessing the books. Every now and then when she felt particularly energetic, she was able to concentrate her hearing to listen to the calm hustle and bustle of the citizens above ground. It was easy to discern their lives were boring and not very threatened, much less exciting. Maleficent would listen for keywords and important details about their lives, such as the fact Regina had taken on the role of 'mayor' apparently very little different than ruling a kingdom as she had her nose in everyone's business and maintained the town.

Maleficent had receded into a type of hibernation that was near ancient among her kind, but still within their makeup should they be too far separated from a food resource which she currently was. She knew this wouldn't end well, however it would end, if it ever did end. Would she curl up and die one day, turning into an underground mountain as some legend say happened at the end of a dragon's life? Would she rot from the inside out and turn into dust? Honestly, she couldn't say, the information at her disposal so damn limited it would make her go crazy if she contemplated the subject for too long, so she refrained. If she couldn't hang on to her physical humanity per the curse placed upon her, she had to maintain some semblance of a normal mind. A normal, lethargic, unused mind. She heaved a mighty sigh, the air blown through her nostrils stirring up the dust by her head, eyes lazily following the brief pattern.

All of a sudden and without warning she felt a pang of guilt settle in her stomach as she was reminded of the egg stolen from her grasp by Snow White and her valiant Prince, who also apparently was the murderer of Sapfir's father and the reason she sought out the infamous dragon lady for shifter lessons. Twice the remorse and triple the pain choked the dragon and she could hardly display the emotion in this form. She was able to shed tears, but to truly sob as a human body allowed was of no use. Becoming so dependent on that ability made the memories hurt far more than they should have. They lasted far longer too without the release. Maleficent closed her eyes in a pitiful attempt to hold back the globs of water streaming down her rough face, claws digging into the stony ground as she grappled with the dread of failing her daughter. Of whatever had become of her beloved Sapfir. It was all her fault for not trusting in the blue dragon to assist in her endeavor to be a mother. Perhaps if she had been with her at the nesting cave instead of or with the other Queens of Darkness than they might have stood a chance protecting her child from being kidnapped. But foolishly she had been too prideful and took on the challenge herself, not even informing the male donor of her expectancy, intending to fully raise the child on her own. Well...with Sapfir's help, she now realized.

She growled, but it was a weak noise, lightly reverberating against the walls until it came back and struck her ears once more, causing another wave of emotion to fill her heart. How pathetic she had become, crumbled into a whimpering pile or scales and wings, her will gone, her fire all but extinguished, hope disappeared and not a care in the world. What if... Maleficent curled her wings around her large body, covering her head slightly to avoid looking at her surroundings. She was slipping. Again. She had promised to not entertain those thoughts, both to herself and to the two women who brought light into her life, but without either there to boost her spirit and with her child who knows where or dead, she saw little in her future. If she could cease to exist then and there she would find a way and make it happen. There was little doubt in her head on that fact and long had she been there? Time seemed to be nonexistent, to stand still, yet it mattered so much to the dragon despite its long lifespan. What was a life without the passage of time, without some way to acknowledge one's being?

What did it matter anymore? She was but a corpse at this point, laying there day in and day out, hardly moving. She had to force herself to stand on her weary legs to take flight and ensure she could still accomplish such a thing but being confined in that small space she couldn't fly the way she used to enjoy and she truly lost the fulfillment it once gave her. She had missed it the most when she was sulking in her sorrows, pricking her finger to take away her feelings. That was a safer solution to the pain she was currently in. What she wouldn't give for a sleeping curse right now. Even if it wasn't watered down, she would at least not be aware of what was happening to her, the keen mind she so prized withering away into a meek, starving muscle. If only she could end it all... All the could have beens, the future she had envisioned for herself. She was finally going to have a family again, the one desire she had always craved since the moment her father left her. If she was being honest, it was probably when her mother had died that she lost her sense of family and pulled away to put walls up around her fragile heart. That's why the betrayal from her father hurt less than the death of her mother. She had been prepared. As sad as that was.

The hopelessness she now felt was unlike anything she had ever experienced. Far worse than hearing of her mother's death, of being insulted by those damn goody faeries, the betrayal by Stefan and Briar Rose, Regina pulling away, and watching as Sapfir nearly perished by the Evil Queen's hand. Her child was gone, she was helpless beneath a town created from magic to please some sick side of the queen. What use was it for everyone to lose their memories? Was it the only way to take away happiness? Then why did Maleficent retain her memories of the Enchanted Forest? She knew it must be so she could defend the artificial egg Prince James stored in her, no doubt at the behest of Rumplestiltskin. She could tell there was a potion in there, keeping its magical properties intact while it waited to be retrieved by whomever he had intended to collect it. Maleficent had tried in vain to remove it before the Curse struck, but garnered no results and having as limited a knowledge of magic as Sapfir had, the brunette was unable to investigate any more than the blonde was. It was infuriating being under the thumb of that wretched imp, even if briefly. If it all ended, would the item vanish too? Or would it be released? She growled briefly, but to her trained ears it sounded more of a moan than anything else.

When would this be finished? Would Regina ever find her happiness and stop poisoning the lives around her, tainting the few relationships she did in fact have? Could it end? A deep exhausted sigh escaped her snout as she attempted to curl further into herself, a tactic she had picked up early in her human life. If she was small and felt her body took up less space she felt comfortable, less of a nuisance and soothed. However, she was dragon now. Human no longer she wondered how others of her kind survived. What did they do to pass the time and remain engaged, amused? She supposed she should have stayed in more contact with the dragons to—internally she laughed because the dragon hadn't the capability of such a feat. She was dragon and here she was thinking if only she had been around dragons more she would understand how to be a dragon. It was laughable, it was pathetic. A dragon looking for advice on being a dragon. Some expert she claimed to be.

Her stomach rumbled as she opened an eye to glare at it. What she wouldn't give for a mountain elk right now but rather than let her body shut down and correct the issue on its own, she actively forced the ache into submission and allowed her reserved energy to take its place and sustain her. She was merely surviving at this point. This wasn't living, not one iota. Maleficent felt herself floating into a dreamless state. Well, that would be a welcome change. Dreamless was better than bitter remorseful nightmares. She curled closer to the wall she was near, sensing the diminishing flame within her. It would soon be a small flicker of light, hardly able to light the smallest of bowls much less attack the procurer of the Imp's magic. She made a note right before blacking out that next she woke she would practice flying. Practice. Hah! But yes, she couldn't recall the last she was airborne and thus determined she required some practice to ensure she was still physically fit. Though she would never be physically fit surviving here.

If she ever escaped...she would need to have a long conversation with that once bright-eyed passionately kind queen who sentenced her to this confinement. Oh she changed. Finally she's taken charge of her life but in doing so has submitted everyone else to a wretched one. Was she finally happy with this change of scenery? Was her heart lighter now that her revenge was enacted? Maleficent hoped for the best in that case, despite her predicament. She knew how wretched it was of her, but she could never bring herself to hate the young queen. Regina would hold a piece of her heart for the rest of her immortal life. A piece she could never reacquire, nor one she wished to obtain. If holding that sliver helped the woman retain a shred of her humanity, of her own heart, the dragon would gladly leave well enough alone. Her life was owed to Regina after all.

She had been but a corpse, self-captive in her own fortress for twenty years, mulling in her failed revenge, the pain she accursed upon King Stefan to right the wrongs he had of her. A regret that plagued her day and night, gnawed at her soul and tore at her heart. Never had she felt so low in her life and thus sought refuge in a modified sleeping curse. She hadn't a true love and knew should she put herself under the spell, she would never reawaken should her heart be healed through time, so instead she numbed her emotions away. Every day, as soon as her body felt heavy she would prick her thumb and the euphoria of feeling nothing filled her being and allowed her to survive. Yes...survive. That was exactly what she was doing. Only when the petite brunette crossed the threshold into her not so humble abode was the dragon able to tap into an emotion again. Granted it had been anger over the accusations presented, but it was more than she had been able to conceive at the time. The girl looked up to her, idolized her and she believed she could help her. Hope returned to the blonde sorceress. Regina had loved her when Maleficent couldn't love herself.

If it weren't for the young queen, the Mistress of Evil-as some called her-would have withered away into nothingness, a mere legend for the ages, forgotten...abandoned. Just as she had been abandoned by her own father. Maleficent was revived by that sweet, caring, beautiful human. She had a reason to live again and someone to visit and keep her company. It was such a glorious feeling those first few months getting to know Regina and developing a camaraderie, allowing the dragon to become protective of that shining light and angry when she was upset. She fell in love with her. Perhaps it was the first contact with another human in decades that gravitated the blonde to her, perhaps it was the woman's voracious personality. Whatever it was, it helped her immensely and what they shared was glorious. Even now she was uncertain if Regina knew how much an impact she had on her life and how much that relationship, that friendship means to her.

The dragon flinched in her hibernating sleep, the pain of that heartache more physical than mental or emotional, a low groan rumbling from her thin chest. She was losing weight. What a sad display of a dragon she now was. How long...? With the thought she winced, feeling her stomach curl in on itself. She shut her mind off from feeling those horrible hungry sensations, forcing herself deeper into sleep. She hoped this would soon be over. She could hardly move, much less defend herself. She was a sitting target, weak, unwilling to fight. Maleficent fell further, but closer to the surface of her memories, her history than she dare wished to traverse.

All of a sudden and not at all, Maleficent's life had grown so full her heart could barely contain itself. At the very least it kept her busy. She was training a pair of young dragons the art of shapeshifting. They—well, the female-had wished to travel amongst humans to seek retribution for her foolish father's demise, a desire Maleficent knew all too well. The connection they created was indescribable and unlike any connection she had ever forged. Different than all others, but then...all relationships were different and the one she had with Sapfir was so special. Quite an important one that kept pulling her back from dangerous thoughts, kept her in the present and for once she started to look forward to the future. She was planning her life again, figuring out what she wanted, what she could or should do. It was invigorating and so pure.

Shenanigans ensued when she was teamed up with Cruella de Ville and Ursula, the sea witch, and Maleficent began to feel more like her old self. The impeccable Dragon Lady was back and badder than ever. Not really, if she was being completely honest, but it was a magnificent change of pace. Dare she count them among the few friends she has ever had in her life? Perhaps... Despite the terrorizing they participated in, Maleficent still felt something was missing in her life, a huge change that needed to happen, but she couldn't quite place what that might have been, only gaining that knowledge upon crossing paths with a young blonde haired beastie. The girl had called herself Goldielocks and it was during their interaction she was hit with an epiphany. Her mind and heart were ready to have a child and had sent signals to her body, hence her strange sensations. The more she thought of it, the more it felt a strong decision she had to pursue. And so she did. Maleficent was going to have a child!

For most of her life, she never considered becoming a parent, whether it be because of the loss of her own parents at such a young age or because she hated following the norm of her kind and mating so young, so naive and unprepared. Granted, she had never felt the urge to procreate even growing up, so she often wondered if she were like her dragon brethren, but upon consolation from an elder, she felt more sure in herself. Every dragon was different, just as every human was different and when she was ready she would know, so she let it slide and lived her life. Being so long after the conversation, the knowledge that she wanted a child was astounding and she kept it to herself for a lengthy period. She waited until the last moment to inform Sapfir, refraining from ever telling even Regina. She had changed too drastically to be trusted with that knowledge. She knew the now Evil Queen could hold a secret as it was that which led to her unraveling emotionally, but she was uncertain how she would react to this change in her friend's life.

If she could return to that day she found out she was pregnant, Maleficent would in a heartbeat. It was such an exhilarating feeling growing that tiny body inside of her and she loathed the day she had to transform and lay her child's egg for proper incubation. She set up home in a nearby cave, requesting her fellow Queens of Darkness to guard the entrance, unaware that fate was working against her. An unseen enemy, encouraged by shoddy advice infiltrated her nest and kidnapped her egg. Maleficent tried to reason with Snow and her Prince, begged them to leave it alone instead of ruining her happiness, but they denied her that privilege. Despite promising to return they never did. Her heart hung heavy in her chest as she waited in that cave for weeks, her only respite hearing of the disappearance of Cruella and Ursula as well. Perhaps...they had pursued the royals and something happened to the three of them. Perhaps...her child was alive and they were taking care of them! If only she could bring herself to believe such lies. Surely, her child was killed.

The dragon awoke from her slumber and cried out a mournful noise akin to a moanful cry. It was a strange noise to emerge from the creature but she managed it all the same. She had to let this out, had to hear the woe, hear the tragedy she so deeply felt. The flicker in her chest was near extinguished, her wings hardly able to sustain her weight, body thinning to show the many bones beneath. She would perish in this cave. That was an undeniable truth. First her heart shriveled up into a tiny pebble easily thrown to sea by children, then her mind was left to dissolve into pure memory. All that was left was awaiting the inevitable destruction of her physical form.

Maleficent had died.

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